Natalya's problems aren't over. Aksinya has another thing to show her at dinner. Plus, I get to show you more about how the aristocracy and etiquette worked in 1918.
When the fish course arrived, Natalya served Aksinya then Aksinya served Natalya. Natalya tried to protest and attempted to stop Aksinya, but Aksinya would have none of it. Natalya covered her face with her hands. The rest of the girls gaped at them. Finally, the girl who spoke before asked, “Lady Natalya what’s wrong?”
Natalya spoke through her tears, “I serve her. That is my purpose. That’s what a lady-in-waiting is supposed to do.”
“Ha,” exclaimed Aksinya, “Now you serve me by eating with me. I do wish you would converse with us all. I’m certain your input would be very pleasant.”
Natalya glanced between her fingers, “Do you really think so?”
“Of course I do.”
Natalya took a deep breath. She slowly lowered her hands. She picked up her fish knife and the proper fork. She began to eat her meal.
The girls around the table smiled.
The sister smiled.
Natalya gives us some insight into her mind. She serves Aksinya. This is an important, more than an important, it is a critical aspect of Natalya's personality and character. This will make the pivotal incident in the novel possible. This will propel Aksinya into redemption, but not in the way you think.
Natalya gets it, and here is part of the lesson that Aksinya should not have taught Natalya. Natalya knows how to serve, but it escaped her that she might serve by being the "great lady she is." In other words, her serving is not just about food and services, but rather about acting in Aksinya's place. This is the first shot that will be repeated in Natalya's "education." Don't get it wrong, Aksinya has it right about teaching Natalya, she just doesn't understand what Asmodeus or Natalya will do. We still have a ways to go before we get to that point in the novel.
So, have you deduced my writing style yet? It is characterized by dialog to drive the plot and theme, and a Spartan and slightly terse style of description. I pray the description is complete enough to set the scene, but that it is short enough not to get in the way of the story. Note, that I use dialog to drive almost everything in the novel. That is the point, not what you are told, but what you are shown--show don't tell.